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Open your mind before your mouth: Electronic dance music and its misconceptions

Hardwell plays live at Tomorrowland 2015 in Belgium. (Source: Kike7x / Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone can argue that all (insert ANY music genre here) sounds exactly the same.

However, if you ask me, it is not about the music sounding the same but about how well it is produced, the artist taking a well known music formula and altering it to be their own and how the music makes its listeners feel.

No one argued when pop singer Conor Maynard covered Drake’s One Dance because he made it his own. The same can be said for country-pop star Sam Hunt remaking Keith Urban’s hit Cop Car — same song, different style.

Electronic dance music is perhaps the most intricate music genre I have ever come across.

I will not argue that most mainstream EDM does sound the same; the tunes you hear on your way to work, in the club or even the Spotify top 100.

Nonetheless, once you take the time to dig into EDM’s sub-genres, each are divergent in their own way.

Dubstep is produced at a higher BPM, or beats per minute, typically 138–142, and focuses on the resonating sub-bass at different speeds. Dubstep artists include Skrillex, Datsik, Excision, and Nero. However, there are plenty of less popular Dubstep artists such as Bro Safari, Getter, Herobust and Infected Mushroom.

Hardstyle is another sub-genre of EDM that doesn’t receive a lot of attention in the mainstream world. Hardstyle mixes house, trance, techno and hardcore, using drum and reversed bass-lines.

How many people have heard of Technoboy, Wildstylez or Noisecontrollers? Not very many I assume.

Most who claim that all EDM sounds the same primarily focus on mainstream EDM, which usually falls under the sub-genre of progressive house, artists like the Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Martin Garrix — who was ranked No. 1 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list for 2016.

Many mainstream artists are blurring the lines between electronic dance music, pop, rock and hip-hop. EDM artists Zedd collabed with pop-sensation Ariana Grande to make her song “Break Free,” while Avicii worked with Coldplay to produce “A Sky Full of Stars.”

Before you commit to the misconception that “all EDM sounds the same,” “DJs just push play,” “EDM is just one genre” or that the “mainstream appeal will ruin dance music,” take a minute to listen to a track that’s not featured on the Spotify Top 100, and tell me if you still feel the same about electronic dance music.

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